Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is a republic and a unitary state which is governed by a semi-presidential system with its official seat of government in Sri Jayawardenapura-Kotte, the capital. The country is famous for the production and export of tea, coffee, coconuts, rubber and cinnamon, the last of which is native to the country. The natural beauty of Sri Lanka has led to the title The Pearl of the Indian Ocean. The island is laden with lush tropical forests, white beaches and diverse landscapes with rich biodiversity. The country lays claim to a long and colorful history of over three thousand years, having one of the longest documented histories in the world. Sri Lanka's rich culture can be attributed to the many different communities on the island.
As a result of its location in the path of major sea routes, Sri Lanka is a strategic naval link between West Asia and South East Asia. It was an important stop on the ancient Silk Road. Sri Lanka has also been a center of the Buddhist religion and culture from ancient times and is one of the few remaining abodes of Buddhism in South Asia along with Ladakh, Bhutan and the Chittagong hill tracts.The Sinhalese community forms the majority of the population; Tamils, who are concentrated in the north and east of the island, form the largest ethnic minority. Other communities include Moors, Burghers, Kaffirs, Malays and the aboriginal Vedda people.

Pre-Historic Sri Lanka

The pre-history of Sri Lanka dates back over 125,000 years Before Present (BP) and possibly even as early as 500,000 BP. The era spans the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and early Iron ages. Among the Paleolithic (Homo Erectus) human settlements discovered in Sri Lanka, Pahiyangala (named after the Chinese traveler monk Fa-Hsien), which dates back to 37,000 BP, Batadombalena (28,500 BP)[ and Belilena (12,000 BP) are the most important. The remains of Balangoda Man, an anatomically modern human, found inside these caves,suggests that they may have engaged in agriculture and kept domestic dogs for driving game.

According to the Mahāvamsa, a chronicle written in Pāli language, the ancient period of Sri Lanka begins in 543 BC, with the landing of Vijaya, a semi-legendary king who arrived in the country with 700 followers from the southwest coast of Bangladesh. After consolidating the power, he established the Kingdom of Tambapanni, near modern day Mannar. Vijaya is the first of the approximately 189 native monarchs of Sri Lanka, as described in various chronicles like Dipavamsa, Mahāvamsa, Chulavamsa and Rājāvaliya. (see List of Sri Lankan monarchs) Sri Lankan dynasty spanned over a period of 2359 years, from 543 BC to 1815 AD, until it came under the rule of British Empire.mils, who are concentrated in the north and east of the island, form the largest ethnic minority. Other communities include Moors, Burghers, Kaffirs, Malays and the aboriginal Vedda people.

Modern Sri Lanka

The beginning of the modern period of Sri Lanka is marked by the Colebrooke-Cameron reforms of 1833. They introduced a utilitarian and liberal political culture to the country based on the rule of law and amalgamated the Kandyan and maritime provinces as a single unit of government. An Executive Council and a Legislative Council were established, later becoming the foundation of representative legislature in the country. By this time, experiments with coffee plantation were largely successful. Soon it grew to become the primary commodity export of the country.

The falling coffee prices as a result of the depression of 1847 stalled economic development and prompted the governor to introduce a series of taxes on firearms, dogs, shops, boats, etc., and reintroduce a form of rajakariya, requiring six days' free labour on roads or payment of a cash equivalent These harsh measures antagonized the locals, and another rebellion broke out in 1848. A devastating leaf disease, Hemileiavastatrix, struck the coffee plantations in 1869, destroying the entire industry within 15 years. The British officials desperately searched for a substitute, and the promising replacement they found was tea. Production of tea in Sri Lanka thrived within the decades to come.

Geography and Climate

The island of Sri Lanka lies atop the Indian tectonic plate, a minor plate within the Indo-Australian Plate.It is positioned in the Indian Ocean, to the southwest of the Bay of Bengal, between latitudes 5° and 10°N, and longitudes 79° and 82°E. Sri Lanka is separated from the Indian subcontinent by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait. According to the Hindu mythology, a land bridge existed between the Indian mainland and Sri Lanka. It now amounts to only a chain of limestone shoals remaining above sea level. It was reportedly passable on foot up to 1480 AD, until cyclones deepened the channel.

The island consists mostly of flat-to-rolling coastal plains, with mountains rising only in the south-central part. Amongst these is the highest point Pidurutalagala, reaching 2,524 metres (8,281 ft) above sea level. The climate of Sri Lanka can be described as tropical and warm. Its position endows the country with a warm climate moderated by ocean winds and considerable moisture. The mean temperature ranges from about 17 °C (62.6 °F) in the central highlands, where frost may occur for several days in the winter, to a maximum of approximately 33 °C (91.4 °F) in other low-altitude areas. The average yearly temperature ranges from 28 °C (82.4 °F) to nearly 31 °C (87.8 °F). Day and night temperatures may vary by 14 °C (25.2 °F) to 18 °C (32.4 °F).

Sri Lanka Map